A man who stole from two women – one in her 90s – is beginning a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
On May 1 this year, Geoffrey O’Brien attended the address of an elderly resident in Bedlington, claiming he had cleaned her guttering and demanded payment.
He then asked for a glass of water, at which point the woman left the front door to kindly oblige his request.
O’Brien then entered the house uninvited and stole her purse, containing cash and bank cards, which was on the table inside.
The victim later noticed her purse had been taken and informed a relative, who contacted the bank to find it had been used at a local shop to buy cigarettes.
Three days later, O’Brien went on to approach a lone woman who was walking through Bedlington when he yanked her bag from her shoulder.
He did this with enough force to nearly knock the woman off her feet, forcibly shoving her and making off with her belongings.
Both incidents were reported to police, and after a review of CCTV, O’Brien was identified as prime suspect and was marked as wanted in connection with the offences.
Within days, O’Brien, 29, of Ford Drive, Blyth was arrested and, only 24 hours later, was charged with one count of robbery, one count of burglary and one count of fraud by false representation.
He attended Newcastle Crown Court on October 26 where he pleaded guilty to all offences.
He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, was given a seven-year restraining order to protect each victim and was ordered to pay compensation to those affected by his crimes.
Talking about O’Brien’s sentence, Jude Scott, a Detective Inspector in one of Northumbria Police’s dedicated burglary teams, said: “O’Brien is a persistent and remorseless offender who has clearly targeted vulnerable women on their own who he knew he could overpower and manipulate.
“These types of crime are invasive and extremely scary for the victims, especially as O’Brien used the good will of one of the victims to get inside her house, only to go on and steal from her.
“I would like to praise their bravery in these case as they both immediately informed us of these crimes and provided us with a lot of valuable information which we were able to use to identify O’Brien as our prime suspect.
“This is a fantastic result, and I am extremely pleased O’Brien is now rightly behind bars for his disgraceful actions.”
Det Insp Scott added: “As ever, we would always encourage those in our communities to take an extra second to check doors or windows are locked and any valuables kept out of sight.
“Please also be vigilant and question anyone trying to gain access to your home. Thieves often use distraction techniques to get inside the houses of their targets, so ensure you are checking the IDs of workpeople and not leaving strangers unsupervised if they do come inside.
“Most importantly, get in touch if something doesn’t look or feel right for your community and trust your instincts.”
To report anyone acting suspiciously, contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of the Northumbria Police website, or call 101.
In an emergency, or if a crime is taking place, always ring 999.
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